Adolescent Surveys Broaden Thinking about Bullying

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bullying that was experienced or witnessed by 185 high school students went beyond the more commonly acknowledged forms of bullying to include racial/ethnic harassment, sexual harassment, and homophobic epithets, Sandra Cortina, Ph.D., reported in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

The high school students' ideas for ways to alleviate bullying indicated that a multisystem approach is needed to increase school monitoring, prosocial peer behavior, and attention to diversity-related bullying, said Dr. Cortina, formerly of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, where the study was based, and now a psychology fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

During educational presentations on school bullying at two rural Midwestern high schools, the investigators divided students into groups of three or four, gave them a one-page handout on commonly researched forms of bullying, and asked each student to write three to five examples of bullying at their school and two or three suggestions for improving the problem.

Physical and verbal harassment were the most common forms of bullying. Harassment based on race or ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation were prevalent, Dr. Cortina reported.

The students were clear that increased involvement from both peers and staff would be essential to prevent and intervene in bullying. …